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After entertaining Bluffton’s campus at more than 65 events since August, J. Denny Beaver’s true identity was revealed at halftime of the men’s basketball game on Feb. 16 during a beheading ceremony -- the only time that college mascots traditionally remove their costume heads in public.

With all those appearances, it took three students to perform the duties of the friendly character.
Beaver Be-Heading

Zeke Tracy is a sophomore art major from Continental, Ohio. He performed in last year’s May Day musical and is also a member of this year’s cast. He is a member of the Anabaptist Bestiary Project and Sunday Night Worship, and works as a Yoder Recital Hall sound technician. "I’d like to thank the beaver planning committee for the opportunity to perform in the suit," said Tracy.

Jonathan Luginbill, a sophomore music major from Bluffton, Ohio, is a member of the Honors Program who also sings in Accent! and Camerata Singers, and serves as a resident advisor. "I would like to thank my family and everyone who kept my secret, the Bluffton community for making this a wonderful experience, and my fellow J. Denny Beavers for ‘watching my back,’" said Luginbill.

Brandon Fullenkamp is a senior music education major from Botkins, Ohio, and is involved on campus as vice president of the Student Alumni Association; sings as a member of Accent!, Camerata Singers, and Choral Society; and is a resident advisor. "I would like to thank Caitlin Keelor for being a fantastic role model and mascot mom, my fellow J. Denny Beavers and the girls of Ropp Hall for being J. Denny’s #1 fan," said Fullenkamp.

Fullenkamp, as the senior, was in the costume and did the ceremonial removing of the mascot head. Tracy and Luginbill were in the student section and came to center court as their identities were revealed.

All performers were presented with a Varsity B jacket by Phill Talavinia, Bluffton University director of athletics. The performers are volunteers and are not paid for the more than 200 hours of time spent in the costume. They will continue their role as J. Denny Beaver through the end of the academic year.

J. Denny was introduced as Bluffton’s new mascot at the Opening Convocation in August. More than a year of planning went into creation of the character, which is named in honor of Dr. J. Denny Weaver, Professor Emeritus of religion and longtime faculty athletics representative at Bluffton.

The beaver mascot at Bluffton goes back to 1926-27. The first costume is believed to be a papier-mâché head and furry body made and donned by students in 1967. J. Denny’s predecessor, Bucky Beaver, retired in 2007-08 after more than 20 years of service.

This also kicks off the application process for the next J. Denny Beaver. Any interested Bluffton students can get an application from the Marbeck Center Desk or online at

Public Relations Office, 2/17/11